Sometimes the hardest thing about doing this column is not finding something to write about, but deciding among all the strange, ridiculous, or pretty-much-unbelievable stories sent in by readers. Picking which off-the-wall event to showcase is often like taking a sip from a firehose. This week is kinda like that.
For example, my friend, John Gammill, sent me a Fox News story about a seven-year-old boy named Alex Watkins who lives in Loveland, Colorado. Alex was recently playing a game called ‘Rescue the World,’ at recess on the playground of his school, Mary Blair Elementary. In this game, see, there are these bad guys, and they want to destroy the world, and Alex was trying to stop them. And he was suspended from school for pretending to throw a hand grenade at these imaginary bad guys.
Alex didn’t throw anything, he just went through the motions. And he didn’t even pretend to throw this nothing at other kids. He pretended to throw it at bad guys who weren’t even there. No one was there. And he got suspended for that.
I can’t even think of anything to say about this story. There are no words to convey how ridiculous this is. I just hope someone like Alex is around when the bad guys actually come and attack for real, because whoever made up the rules for Colorado schools will be useless.
Another story in the ridiculous category is the one that was in the Outdoor Hub newsletter last week about a benefit squirrel hunt held every year in Holly, New York, to raise money for the volunteer fire department there. The total population of Holly is about 1,800, and although pretty much all fire departments are perpetually short on funds, the ones in small towns usually hear crickets when they check their bank accounts.
Hence the annual fundraiser which, in Holly’s case, is a squirrel hunt. They charge folks $10 to enter, and since there’s a six-squirrel limit, the $200 prize goes to whoever kills the heaviest squirrel. Only this year the ‘Friends of Animals’ group decided to organize a protest of the hunt, on the grounds that they don’t expect their houses to ever catch fire. And if they do, I guess they can always go live with the squirrels.
The strangest story I’ve seen lately came from Guns.com, with the title “Bullet kills motorist after ‘freak ricochet’ off boar.” So, of course, the question is whether the bullet ricocheted off the hog, or the car did, or maybe just the motorist bounced off a pig, and ran into a bullet. Or maybe a freak ricocheted off the boar, hit the motorist, and the pig shot him. I hate it when you have to read a whole story to find out what happened.
Turns out, some fellows were out hunting hogs in France (I didn’t even know they HAD hogs in France), and this one guy shot a boar, and the bullet bounced off his (the boar’s) head and zinged away at almost a right angle. It (the bullet) traveled two kilometers (which is either several hundred yards or a quart and a half) and hit a fellow driving along a highway in his car. It was, to say the very least, a remarkably unlucky shot. Unless that was what the hunter was trying to do, in which case it was a remarkably lucky shot.
The shooter was described in the article as an ‘experienced and level-headed 68-year-old hunter.’ The president of the local hunters’ federation, a guy named Guy Harle d’Ophove, was quoted as saying, “It’s unheard-of.” I’d say what’s unheard-of is anyone who can pronounce ‘Guy Harle d’Ophove.’
Now, a lot of people commented on this story, and most of them evinced skepticism, understandably. No one seems to believe a bullet could travel that far after a ricochet and still be going fast enough to kill someone. And it does sound a little windy, like the Frenchies may be stretching the blanket a little, but I think it’s within the realm of possibility.
The story didn’t mention the caliber involved, which would be a major factor, and it didn’t say where in the head the driver was hit, which would be another, but different, major factor. It doesn’t take much of a shot to the temple to do somebody in, under the right circumstances. Besides, if I was just driving along, minding my own business, and a bullet whacked me in the noggin, I’d probably die of a heart attack.
There is also the possibility that someone shot the fellow on purpose, and blamed it on the ‘experienced and level-headed hunter.’ Which is unlikely, so forget that idea.
All I know is that once, when I was about a dozen years old, I shot a feral hog, a big boar, nine times between the eyes with a .22 rifle, from less than ten feet, over the course of about ten minutes, and none of the bullets penetrated his skull. The last time I saw that hog was over my right shoulder, after he finally had enough and came after me. I ran for a while, and when I looked again he was gone.
So strange things happen, and concequences are often unintended. One day you might throw an imaginary hand grenade at some squirrel hunters, and the next day your house might burn down . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who once saved the world by throwing an imaginary Frenchman. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org